Estrogen dominance is a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. While it is a root cause of many of today’s health issues plaguing both men and women, it also has a root and those roots have roots. Conventional medicine would have you believe that if you fix one problem your symptoms/issues will magically disappear. Since estrogen dominance has so many symptoms it is nearly impossible to treat ONLY estrogen dominance without treating the underlying reasons for the estrogen dominance and by treating the estrogen dominance you will, indeed, be treating many other health issues. You can’t selectively heal.
To teach you about how to solve your estrogen dominance let me walk you through a prime case study. A client of mine (we’ll call her Nancy) has an autoimmune illness called rheumatoid arthritis. She had a myriad of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis but also many other symptoms that had nothing to do with RA. She came to me in tremendous pain, bless her, but also depressed, anxious, with out of control PMS, acne, and digestive issues with bloating. She was 45 pounds overweight, insulin resistant and was in the early stages of adrenal fatigue. Nancy was in crisis and begged for a solution.
Upon examining her blood results from her doctor, we realized (among other things) her estrogen levels were sky high and her progesterone levels were a little low but overall not too low to warrant much alarm. The inflammation in her body was sky-high and the medicines for that inflammation were doing precious little to relieve them. Her doctor had just prescribed her estrogen HRT, even though she was only 35, to help with the PMS. It not only did NOT help with the PMS but it made all of her symptoms much worse. We had to start somewhere so I decided to focus on the estrogen levels first so that we could then deal with her insulin resistance which would naturally take care of the weight. (This was my theory and my greatest hope.)
Nancy, as millions of other Americans, was a heavy coffee drinker, often drinking 8-10 cups in a day. Studies have shown that women who consumed at least 500 milligrams of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee, had nearly 70% more estrogen during the early follicular phase of their cycle than women who consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, or less than one cup of coffee.
Nancy ate nearly no vegetables, very little fruit, a lot of refined carbohydrates, ate under stress and while distracted, craved sweets (and gave into those cravings) and then subsequently craved salty snacks. This is very common in adrenal fatigue but also creates a perfect storm for insulin resistance, obesity, and estrogen dominance. She, having grown up in the Mid-West, believed she needed animal protein every day and, in the early days of her diagnosis of RA a well meaning dietician told her to make sure she was getting enough protein in her diet and proceeded to give her a list of lean animal proteins to make sure she was eating on a daily basis.
She was also exposed to high levels of environmental toxicity. She dry-cleaned all of her clothes, believed in the strongest cleaning agents for her home, admittedly was a “product junkie” when it came to beauty and bought every potion on the market that came in a pretty tube, and did not see the point in buying organic vegetables (when she would buy them) because “weren’t they basically the same if she washed them?”. We had to do a total reset on her body’s ability to balance and heal itself.
In Nancy’s case we did a 21 day reset in which she consumed loads of organic, local, seasonal vegetables and a few berries either in salads, juiced, or blended. (It helped that we did this over the summer and she happens to live in California where there is an endless supply of amazing fruits and veggies.) To her smoothies she added green powders filled with chlorella and spirulina. She learned to love sweet potatoes and coconut oil. She was afraid I would “turn her into a vegan” so I still allowed her a few eggs a day, however insisted they were farm fresh, free-range, fertile eggs. She ate, a few times a week, wild line-caught cold water fish like sardines, cod, and halibut. She learned to eat real food not out of a box, can, or package. She learned to love nut butters and homemade nut milks. We cut out her dairy consumption for the reset. She gave up coffee cold turkey though she still was allowed one cup of green tea in the morning.
Because she was a die hard carb addict, allergic to wheat and has a mild gluten-sensitivity, we limited her whole grain and bean intake to twice a week during her reset and doubled her veggie intake. She was allowed quinoa three times a week and millet once a week. She learned to love healthy fats and found her pallet came alive with the addition of all these “new” foods. She had never eaten an avocado until the reset!
We changed up her personal care and beauty routines to natural and organic products that she loved because not only did they work but they were also much less money than the “luxury” products she was used to buying. She learned how to wash her silks and wools, which she liked because it saved her lots of money in dry-cleaning bills.
She took two 20 minute walks a day and did stretches in her office. This led her to discover the yoga classes her company offered right there in the building. She took a few well-chosen supplements (more on supplements tomorrow) to aid in detoxing her liver.
The bottom line to her healing was that the very diet that helped reduce her estrogen dominance also helped reduce chronic inflammation in her body and the vegetables and fruits with the few alkalizing grains she ate created an alkaline state. Her adrenal glands balanced because she lowered her stress levels.
After her reset we began supplementing the last half of her cycle with a natural progesterone cream containing about 20 milligrams of progesterone. With my help making several small changes (and a few really big ones) we managed, in 3 short months, to dial back her estrogen dominance to only just slightly above optimal (she is still improving) She lost 34 pounds. Now, I am sure losing the weight helped lessen the estrogen dominance but the lowering of her estrogen disruptors helped her lose weight. Something else miraculous occurred without even really trying. Her inflammation levels (C Reactive proteins) reduced by nearly half and her pain was nearly gone. She also saw a marked improvement in her moods and PMS. Her skin was clear and glowing. All of this without actually addressing those issues actively. She continues to improve to this day and is, currently off all her medications but two and she has reduced the dosage on the two that remain.
She is seeking a new physician as her current one does not believe her change in diet has anything to do with the positive change in her blood levels.
Tune in tomorrow when we talk about how you can go about Taming Estrogen Dominance.
Wishing you peace and balance,